Le Homme Dieu Chain, Alexandria, MN
Today was the Start of the BASSMASTER Weekend Series, put on by B.A.S.S. and ABA. This is the first of five events with a guaranteed five grand payout for first. I was also able to get out and practice yesterday and had some success despite the massive storm front that rolled in. According to the Weather Channel we had some gust blow over 40 mph. Despite the wind and rain, my pattern that I had developed last weekend during practice was still holding up strong. I usually try not to actually hook the fish in practice especially the day before the tournament, however, I do a couple just to verify that one they’re bass and two, check their size. My first bite of the morning hailed a five and a half pound largemouth. Cool but not so cool at the same time. It was nice to see that I was on some tankers but was hard accepting that it was only practice and not the tourney itself. What do you do?
I drew boat number 18 for takeoff and was third in the second flight. I headed straight to one of my best stretch of banks and instantly started going to work throwing a 3/8 oz. Amp Lures Musashi spinnerbait (Sweetfish). I quickly caught a 12″ squeaker that got the skunk out of the boat. It wasn’t the size I was looking for but none the less, it was a start. About a half hour later and a little further down the stretch I caught a pretty nice fish that was between 2.5 and 3 pounds. This fish was a nice Le Homme Dieu keeper but I noticed it was bleeding pretty good from the gill. I decided to keep the bass even though I was worried about it dying on me. A dead fish penalty carries a .25 lb. penalty on your total weight and it’s against tournament law to release a dead fish. An hour later I caught another 12 inch keeper and when I put in it the livewell I noticed the injured fish was floating, still alive but in real rough shape. I instantly added Rejuvenade to the livewell water in hopes to give the bass the kick it needed to live. Not to jump ahead but that fish was by far the most liveliest bass at weigh in. I knew for sometime that Rejuvenade was a good product, but good is an understatement. It’s great! Any tournament angler should have a bottle in their boat. Not only did it save me a couple ounces at weigh in but more importantly it benefits the health of our fish. With how much we enjoy the sport of tournament fishing we owe it to the fish to make sure to take good care of them.
Back to the tournament, I was able to put together a limit rather quickly in the morning. I was moving water throwing an Amp Lures Midshooter crankbait (bluegill) and a Amp Lures Musashi Spinnerbait (sweetfish), and then would target isolated cover with a jig, a 3/8 oz jig for semi deeper water and a 1/4 oz. for the real shallow clean areas. I was convinced going into today that the bass would hold of on the first deep ledge and then as the afternoon approached they would move up shallow. I had the game plan of following this pattern and relying on the bite to get better as the afternoon wore on. At one point I came across a boat dock and I could see 6 or 7 bass holding underneath it. Most weren’t even 10 inches but I kept getting glimpses of a pretty nice fish. After taking a few shots under the dock I managed to catch a couple but they weren’t big enough to cull. I decide to come around the dock and pitch my jig from the backside. I watched as two juvenile bass fought for my jig and purposely didn’t set the hook. Suddenly I saw the three pounder fly in and snatch the bait away from the other two. This proved to be effective as I was able to cull out a one pounder for a three. As I was pulling away from the dock I spotted another three pound bass cruise from deep water straight under that same dock. I instantly turned the boat around and skipped back under the dock and instantly set, culling away another little twelve incher. Now I knew I was in pretty good shape although I still had a 13″ bass in the well. An hour later and I was able to set the little guy free and replace him with one that was about 2 lbs. Not huge but could prove to be critical.
At weigh in I brought 12.36 lbs. to the scales that ended up good enough for a solid 6th place finish. I was one big fish away from a top three but I just never really got that big bite when I really needed it. Which just made that five pounder from practice a little harder pill to swallow. That aside I was very content with my finish. I walked away with a pretty nice paycheck, sitting in great shape for the divisional tournament on Kentucky Lake, in Tennessee, and gave myself a boat load of confidence. No pun intended. This confidence is going to be very important on assuring I do well in the next four events.
Well from here my schedule only gets more hectic. I have a an all day guide trip tomorrow and then will be going directly from that to meeting my buddy Ryan Brant for some evening practice on Lake Minnetonka to prepare for the Denny’s Wednesday Night Shootout. This weekend I will be heading out to Green Lake in Spicer, MN, preparing for an upcoming tournament and then will be coming back to do a Gopher Bassmasters youth team tournament in Shakopee, MN. As I said, hectic but fun doesn’t even begin to describe it!